Article: Using the iPad for Your Music

More and more musicians are finding the iPad to be very useful in their music making. Even choral groups are starting to use them.  I've been using an iPad with my harp now for a few months and I have to say I really like it.  I recently acquired one of the attachable harp desks made by Music Makers that fits on the harp column. The harp desk brought the iPad a little closer and made it easier for me to read the music compared to using a music stand. I thought it would be helpful for any musician who is considering using the iPad for their music to know some of the advantages and disadvantages I have experienced. I have tried using iBooks and iAnnotate but now I use forScore and it has many great features which I will include in this list. 

Advantages of Using the iPad for Music

  • Store thousands of music pages instead of carrying heavy books or binders
  • Back lighting on the iPad is very helpful in poorly lit locations
  • The iPad is very light weight (1.5 lbs) and the battery lasts a long time
  • Easy to locate music using search features or alphabetical listings by composer, title, genre
  • Page turns (forwards and backwards) are faster on the iPad compared to turning physical pages
  • No need for wind clips
  • Keep track of time using the iPad digital clock which is always visible at the top of the frame.
  • Create program playlists and set titles in any order (forScore)
  • Add easily accessed program notes to each song (forScore)
  • Page cropping to enlarge the print and removal of wide margins (forScore)
  • Make markings on the page using colored pens, highlighters, type, and drawing tools (forScore)
  • Built-in metronome with audible sound or outer frame visual flash (forScore)
  • Built-in pitch pipe and piano (forScore)
  • Built-in camera to take photos of music sheets to use in the app (forScore)
  • Transfer PDFs to the application using Dropbox (forScore)
Disadvantages of Using the iPad for Music
  • All music must be put in PDF format before loading in the application
  • Reading distance to the iPad varies for each player. Some players may not be able to bring the iPad close enough to read the music
  • The iPad screen is difficult to read in bright sunlight but if you find a shady area and can tilt the iPad, it can be fine
  • Only one page at a time can be seen so page turns will occur twice as often
  • Marking music can be a little slower until you get use to the tools (forScore)